Button dreams of Silverstone victory
Saturday 13 June 2009
No two fortunes could be more diametrically opposed than those of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton as they approach their home race at Silverstone.
One is the hero who came from zero, the man who felt embarrassed in recent years because he was not in a position to repay the support the fans lavished upon him, yet who now leads the world championship by 26 points; the other is the reigning champion who delivered in sensational style last year yet knows full well that he will be lucky just to score points this time around.
"If somebody had told me this time last year how it would be, I would have said, 'Thank you very much, I'll take that!'" Button laughs.
"At Brawn we are all very proud of what we have done. All of us in the team have been pretty flawless this year. Others have not been so consistent and haven't got the results. Our all-round teamwork has been better. But we worked very hard for it, we haven't been handed it on a plate."
Both know that, whatever befalls them, the British public will cheer them to the echo. "2008 was incredible for me," Hamilton says. "It wasn't perfect, though. I'd had the pole the previous year and that was an incredible feeling. I could hear the crowd as I crossed the line.
"Last year I wasn't sure I would be able to win because we didn't have the pace in practice or qualifying. Then it rained and that was a great opportunity. There were puddles everywhere as it rained non-stop. It was very tough not to go off, but I got a big boost every time I went through Abbey. Everyone was spinning there, but the crowd would get up and cheer and wave their flags. That was the most fulfiling race in my whole life."
Former champion and British GP winner Damon Hill paid tribute to Hamilton's success when he told him this week: "You were under a lot of pressure. There was a lot going on in your life. That drive was right up there with the best drives in history, on a par with [Juan Manuel] Fangio or Jackie Stewart. That was a pressure race which produced an absolutely stunning performance. You took all the risks on the first lap and then nailed it and left the rest floundering."
Button has had a few fulfiling victories of his own this year, most notably Monaco and Turkey, and admits he'd love to add the British race to that special tally.
"I want to win Silverstone of course. And if I don't, I'll be slightly disappointed, but I'll still be leading the world championship whatever happens. Winning the world championship is the most important thing to me. If I win it and don't win at Silverstone, I won't be disappointed.
"But I would love to win at Silverstone. The fans' emotion would make a win in the grand prix here very special."
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